This poem was written during a time when I did a lot of volunteering for wildlife trusts and other environmental groups. Amongst other things, I learned how to build a drystone wall, coppice woodland, and lay hedges, in some beautiful parts of the country. There was always something magical about being outside, working with a group of like-minded people, whatever the weather.
A man, a man I could have loved starts to shade, to shade the morning mist.
He is beating stakes, stakes into the clay forcing them past stones, stones and steady roots, the things weak within the earth and the things that hate to move.
As I approach he takes his shape assuredly from the frail and wet white air, a seamster weaving hazel whips through the hedge, outwitting the final challenge of scratch and rip.
In defeat the hawthorn rests its useless claws uneasily against itself, uncertain how to act. Then feels the sap rise, rise again in its veins, and knows that it is elect.
Hedgelayer features in my poetry collection Up in the Air, available here:
I have already posted about the amazing ‘garden of rooms’ in Herefordshire that inspired The Secret of the Tirthashere. Now there are two more books out, I thought I’d share a few more photos of the garden, including some of the rooms that feature in those books.
ABOVE: The Wedding Cake Tree in the real Miss Day’s Garden. I’ve no idea who the real Miss Day was though – there’s no clues on the Garden’s original map, so she remains a mystery. In The Book of Life this garden is overgrown, abandoned by Evelyn Hartley when her cowardly brother fled the World War One draft through the tirtha to Louisiana.
ABOVE: The view that inspired the scene when Lizzie looks out of her bedroom window on her first night in Rowan Cottage and sees the criss-crossing hedges in the moonlight. The garden right below her is the Sun Garden.
ABOVE: Two South American gods who haven’t (as yet) featured in the stories. And BELOW a photo of them as they are now in a different garden – always pretty glum, but now somehow glummer!
BELOW: The Rill looking up towards The Tower – this place is going to get a lot more important later on.
BELOW: Excerpt from the original list of the Garden Rooms. The Edwardian Path features at the start of the forthcoming book, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask. The Gothic Garden will come into its own soon, too.
BELOW: The plan of the whole garden is on the first post I mentioned above, but here’s a detail of the Sun Garden and area beyond. It includes the Gothic Garden, and the site where I imagined the Indian Garden.
BELOW: As I wrote in my previous post, the garden has sadly now been mostly grubbed up. Here’s one of the rescued Easter Island heads (the middle one, I think, that Lizzie jumped on to on her way to activating the tirtha…)
BELOW: Some of the garden’s lovely flowers and trees
And finally me, working on the first draft of The City of Light in the garden.
Rowan Cottage, the house that Lizzie inherits in The City of Light, is set near the fictional village of Hebley, loosely based on the black-and-white village of Weobley. I’ve already posted about the real garden of rooms that The Secret of the Tirthas is based on here, but here’s a few photos of the remote, beautiful, and occasionally austere area known as the Welsh Marches, which serves as a backdrop to the books:
Looking towards Hay Bluff and Twmpa, at the western edge of the Black Mountains
The Golden Valley
Across the border in Wales: Herefordshire bull, Vale of Ewyas